Everything Is Nice

Beating the nice nice nice thing to death (with fluffy pillows)

Archive for June 3rd, 2009

‘Rhido Wars’ by Neal Barrett, Jr.

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I am a sucker for stories told in dialect. This is a particularly unusual example in that it features a group of enslaved humans on a death march. They have been enslaved by mandrills (here Drills) who ride to war on fearsomely painted rhinos (the titular Rhidos). For no reason the Drills all have names that pun on cultural figures from the Twentieth Century. This shouldn’t work but it does and the same can be said for the rest of the story.

Quality: ****
Shiftiness: ****

Thoughts on the collection as a whole to follow.

Written by Martin

3 June 2009 at 20:27

Posted in sf, short stories

Tagged with ,

Taking An Ethical Stand

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Last month a new groupblog appeared, the intriguing titled Science Fiction and Fantasy Ethics. The people involved were a motley bunch and it wasn’t at all clear how the title would relate to the content. The mission statement is more than a little vague:

Our mission is to celebrate everything positive, funky and exciting in the Fantasy, Science Fiction and Horror Universe! The SFFE is a core platform, a hub of authors who have banded together with the aim of celebrating all that is positive in genre fiction. We aim to make an ethical stand, to do what is right and leave cynicism and negativity at the door. We aim to concentrate on what makes us smile, what entertains us, and what brings light and joy to our SF, fantasy and horror worlds. That’s not to say there is no place for criticism— there’s plenty bad in the world. However, this little digital corner is a place for positive progression. Somewhere you will (hopefully) come if you want to smile and be entertained.

So their “ethical stand” appears to be to cheerlead things they like and ignore things they don’t. Fair enough. However, it is also implies the things they like are breezy upbeat numbers that bring a smile to the face. This from a group that includes Conrad Williams, a writer not well known for his happy-clappy fiction. Is this just another (and slightly unlikely) iteration of the positive SF movement?

I’m not the only person confused by this. Today’s Mind Meld poses these question to the group: Why do you think there is an imbalance towards a negative futuristic outlook? How did we get here and how has this affected the genre? Can you give some examples of positive/upbeat ideas in your genre? The answers are by no means uniform. At the end Andy Remic, founder of the group, tries to shed some light on the situation (and the name):

I believe there is a new wave coming. A new wave of positive genre fiction, as can be seen in de Vries Shine anthology, but also a positive movement in the industry and community. I believe there’s a lot of people out there sick of the constant whining and moaning and tearing down – after all, it’s much easier to destroy than create. That’s why myself, and so many other brilliant authors, are involved with the Science Fiction and Fantasy Ethics project (the SFFE) because we want to promote a positive attitude in the industry, and make and ethical stand against the constant poison and vitriol which, I think, has been invading and escalating for a long time. I chose the name “Ethics” not because I wanted to explore the ethical contexts of novels or films, but because I wanted to make an ethical stand against the motherfuckers who, to my mind, are systematically ruining the SFFH genres. In short, I wanted to do what I believed was intrinsically, morally, ethically and intuitively right. I want to celebrate everything that is good in SFFH, because it’s all subjective, right?? – and, hopefully, we can lead by positive example.

So the obvious question is: who are the motherfuckers?

Written by Martin

3 June 2009 at 12:44